By Melissa Griegel . . .
Nate Patten is a Broadway insider, and he has a lot to say about the industry. His biting and very honest commentary on the highs and lows of Broadway shows, stars, and Actors’ Equity causes him to be, in his words, “well-loved, but often simultaneously hated”. His caustic commentary can certainly ruffle some feathers, but I find him absolutely hilarious and right on the money every time.
His self-taped video commentaries during the Broadway shutdown had me in stitches and led me to listening to the archive of episodes of his BookedIt Podcast that ran from September 2016-October 2020. His new podcast, Patten Disregard, is a video podcast and includes guests from the world of theater. Patten took to Stand Up NY comedy stage shortly after the Tony Awards to give his feedback on the show and on the current state of Broadway.
In addition to being a budding comedian, podcaster, and occasional columnist, Patten is a pianist, conductor, and music director who has worked on such shows as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Prom, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and several others. He has also conducted at The Kennedy Center and Madison Square Garden.
Stand Up NY was packed with Nate Patten fans as he threw shade at Laura Osnes, Beanie Feldstein, Actors Equity, and others who have been in the news for theater missteps, as well as give his opinion on where Broadway is today. Much of his humor is derived from current COVID theater rules, theater training seminars such as anti-bullying, and the current “woke” culture that sometimes goes too far. He joked about the Tony Awards checking off all of the diversity categories in one fell swoop with host Ariana DeBose since she is queer, Puerto Rican, Black, Caucasian, and female.
Being gay and Jewish, Patten certainly supports diversity in casting and creative, but feels that the hammer has now swung too far. He laments that the Broadway of 2022 now expects you to BE the character you are portraying, that gay characters should only be played by gay actors, and that a character with a disability should only be played by an actor with that exact disability. “That defeats the whole point of acting.” he says, and jokes that soon you will have to submit a 23 and Me profile along with your 8X10 glossy. He calls this time “The Hunger Games of being woke” and says that even Lin-Manuel Miranda is being called out for not being woke enough and to apologize for not having enough Afro-Latinx in his film In the Heights. “This is a man writing about his own heritage. The man who cast George Washington as a Black man in Hamilton!”
In addition to his own stand-up, Patten played games with the audience, had a live band, and had guest comedians take to the stage to perform skits. Actress Alida Michal, who was there just to watch the show, volunteered to go on stage to play a guessing game poking fun at the Actors’ Equity handbook. Patten asked Michal to guess if the lines he read were from the handbook or the teachings of the Church of Scientology. Madeleine Doherty participated in two skits, one of which was an “In Memoriam” segment, the likes of which we see at awards shows, saying goodbye to all the things we lost during the pandemic such as in-person auditions. Cam Collins sang the intro song used on Patten’s podcasts, and Jordy Blenner and Ryan Nolan from the comedy troupe Late Nate Shenanigans did two skits. The first was a humorous take on the regional theater awards, and the other poked fun at tourists in Times Square.
Music punctuated the comedic transitions and was performed by Shannon Ford on drums, Lon Hoyt on keyboard, Robert Morris on Guitar, Kristy Norter on saxophone and Francisco Centento on bass. You can listen to Nate Patten’s take on all things Broadway on YouTube, Twitter, FaceBook, and Instagram using @bookeditpodcast, @natepatten, and @pattendisregard. For easy access to his podcasts and articles, go to https://www.bookedit.net/.
Photos by Melissa Griegel Photography